This post by Steve 'The Linguist' Kaufmann is interesting to me for a couple of reasons.
word accumulation is a more helpful goal [for new learners, than spoken fluency ]This, to me, makes a lot of sense. In fact, word accumulation is my biggest barrier to being able to speak well as I very quickly find myself wanting to talk about a subject which my Japanese brain can't express. I can bugger about with the grammar and get my gist over, but without the labels to hand it is worthless.
But another point he makes:
if we have too much output before sufficient input, we risk ingraining wrong patterns in our brainalso rings true for me. I have become accustomed to speaking in casual Japanese at home to the extent that I struggle to remember the polite conjugations - hence the benefit I have had in using the fairly basic Berlitz book. I hear this too in other people - typically those who are better auditory learners than books types, who have picked up their language on working holidays or down the izakaya - one guy who entered my Japanese class a few years ago really struggled with the material we were covering simply because he didn't know the polite form very well, despite being far more capable of sitting and chewing the fat with folk in Japanese.
Moreover, Steve advocates writing as the way to improve:
Learners can write using their newly saved words and submit this for correction. Even a few lines will doThis is of course what he's going to do - he's plugging his product LingQ, but to me it makes sense: one of the most successful students I had, in terms of the pace of her improvement, was a girl who each week wrote just a few lines of diary and we corrected it and chatted over it (I use the word chat loosely, mind you). But the benefit was clear - she quickly moved through from very simple declarative statements to expressing opinions and talking about her weekends, past and future. Slowly, and on a limited range of topics, but moving far quicker than our actual book based study, or other students who only used that route.
So perhaps my goal should be to try and write more and use that as the basis of my language exchange each week.